This Ain't About Me

Wil Wheaton is kicking ass and taking names on the second day of the WPT Invitational - he started the day with 17K and now has over 90K, a double-par stack. Go reload the fuck out of Dr Pauly's coverage to stay up-to-the-minute and cheer on a representative of bloggerdom.


After Math And Post Facto Draws

I'm ready to call my run at the LAPC a qualified success. Winning 300 buyins in a tourney to start doesn't hurt. I was running fairly well for the remainder of the tournaments as well, though the satellites and the main event ate into my bottom line. The last couple weeks weren't great, and were mostly a lesson in how lucky you need to get to make a big cash, which is hard to absorb when your first big tournament goes so smashingly. But in the span of a month I did a staggering number of things I've never done before. I've played with some pros without curling into a fetal ball, even bluffed them out of pots I needed to win. Played higher limits than I ever have (the difference really IS just the bet size). I've been in a set-over-set-over-set hand. I've walked into a bank with a laptop case lined with a few bricks of cold, hard cash and subsequently freaked out the personal banker; I think her read on me went from "nice young man" to "probable drug kingpin" in the span of two words. I've called bets that, whatever their chip consequences, were essentially for $10K and $20K, and been right both times. I've heard my wife shout "It's not gambling!" at my mother, in response to my mother's probing question about my presumptive "gambling problem". All that said, I'm craving familiarity now. I left Commerce tonight earlier than I'd planned, because I realized I'd rather get home to my wife than spend another second in an increasingly weird limit game. I have a much healthier bankroll now, and I plan to use it, but I'm not hitting the tournament circuit anytime soon (and I don't have the bankroll for it anyway). I looked over the schedule and structures for the WSOP and couldn't get excited about them - the LAPC events had a better blind structure, more starting chips, and similar level times. So after a month of living, breathing and dreaming poker, I have no idea what the "next step" is. I've got several unpokerish projects that have languished overlong, a trip to SXSW in March, and a need to decompress my head. Also I think I'm getting a cold. I've never been good at making a long story short, but longtime readers already knew that. Do keep watching this space, but don't expect a whole lot from it in the near future. I have a life to reconstruct, a wife and three cats who've missed me, and an appointment at the DMV. It's all about the priorities; suddenly I have more options than usual and I'm going to need a little time to explore them.


In Slightly Gorier Detail

Blair Rodman is the guy who busted me. I wish him the best. We were both sitting on about T15K at that point. He had me covered by only a few hundred. Blinds 100/200/25. I completed and he raised to T800. Hey, action! He's got position on me so I want to build the pot. Also, I figure I've got the best hand right now. I reraise to T2500. He seems startled by this, but after a minute moves all-in. For T12500 more. I know he doesn't have aces. Not 100% but the play doesn't make that much sense with aces. Glyphic had sent me a few messages with data on the guy, including a few passages from Rodman's book in which he recommends using the all-in play with abandon. If he puts me on a pair like tens or jacks he could move there with a hand as weak as AT, QQ, JJ ... I know he doesn't have the aces. If he doesn't have the aces I'm at least 70-30 to win, more if he's got a pocket pair lower than mine. I think he has either AK or QQ. I remember TJ Cloutier's admonition against going broke with less than aces preflop on the first day of a tournament, but decide it can't possibly apply here. I know I have the best hand. If I'm not going to take a chance like this I shouldn't be in the tourney to begin with. You know the rest. Turns out he has one ace. Then the flop comes and all of a sudden he has three. I am slightly irritated by D. Negreanu at this point because Negreanu starts repeating, "Drawing dead, drawing dead," over and over for no particular reason that I can make out. Irritated because, first, it's obvious to everyone that I have just taken a particularly brutal overkill beat - one ace would have been plenty, thanks - and though my eyes and brain may be a little wobbly at the moment it's because I know I just got badly outflopped. And second, because he's wrong. Even with the staggering, crushing blow the dealer's just given me, I can see that I am, in fact, not drawing dead - the AAT flop gives me a runner-runner gutshot draw to chop. Turn is a J. "Drawing dead." I nearly give him the stare of death but decide I need all the karma I can get at the moment. A queen on the river would be nice. It would be just. I'd take it and thank my luck, never mind that cursed flop. But the river is a ten, he has a boat, I have kings and tens, and we're so close in chips I have to lean over and count my chips down to the last to make sure I'm actually covered. Which I am. Rodman was a gentleman about it. He said sorry and that he didn't have me on such a strong hand. Of course, if I hadn't, he wouldn't have anything to be sorry about because I would have just folded. I didn't stick around to watch him stack my chips. I hope he puts them to good use. I would recommend, in all sincerity, that he use them to play AK very fast, because it's hard to argue with that kind of success. A hell of a lot harder from the rail.

System Shock

I limped from the SB with KK. BB raised. I reraised. BB moved in. I thought about it and called. BB tables AKo.

AAT flop.

So, that was fun.

Learning To Swim

I raise to T600 in EP with KhQh. Three (!) callers. Maybe table image not so good.

228 flop, two diamonds. I bet T1800, everyone folds. Table image good. Bowels maybe less good.

Negreanu maybe about to lose a lot of money, I think COTE flopped a set.

...no, just massively overbetting top pair, but none of Negreanu's draws came in (though he was a favorite, I think). Score another for Cop On The Edge.

Math Problem

700 gamblers (and, in some cases, their entourages) are released for a forty-five minute dinner break at the same time with the instruction that they must leave the room. If a casino has seven food outlets, four of which seem incapable of processing more than twenty customers an hour, how many fistfights will occur per minute? Express your answer as a function of the time remaining until the dinner break ends.

T17K on the nose at the break. Still 100/200 when we come back. I played (and lost) a tiny pot with Negreanu when I didn't bet my turned double-gutter draw (JT on an AK78 board), river was a deuce, he had 44. Shoulda bet; then again I don't have anything and he has to think the only way to win the pot is with a raise.

Still no real cards, but I did resteal from the blind with KJo and get away with it. Table image solid, so I once again hope to put it to good use when the antes come in, which is after the next half-hour of play.

The Kid Is Back

Negreanu just doubled through Cop On The Edge with a flopped jack-high flush. COTE chased with Ad and missed.

So now the monster has chips.

Good News, Bad News

Good: they finally filled the 1 seat so we're no longer 8-handed.



... it's Negreanu.

If Deuces Were Horses

... I could spend a lot of time at the paddock.

Did get KK. Got a little action with it but not much. Aggressive players on my right and a lot of hands I'd call them with, but I'm not getting any of them. Suited connectors and baby pairs, where are you?

T17.6K or so, ten minutes left at this level, then 100/200.

Dealer Beat

I nearly just won a pot I shouldn't have. I limped with 88, Cop On The Edge raised from late position. Flop 99T. I was fairly certain COTE had none of this and check-called, planning to bet or raise the turn. But the turn was a K. I checked, he checked. River K. Great.

"Counterfeited, I'm playing the board," I said.

...and he mucked his hand. Sort of. He pushed it toward the dealer, who stared at him open-mouthed for a few seconds.

And THEN he reached out and turned his hand over, which included an ace.

For the record, I'm not the one who called for the floor.

Little controversy a bit later that tilted the one seat so badly he blew off his stack calling a massive overbet by Cop On The Edge. Overpair no good against three deuces.

What happened was, I called his turn bet, made the nut flush on the river, and was looking down at my chips deciding how much I was going to bet. So I didn't see him check and the dealer wasn't looking at me. So I asked, "you check?" and he opened his hand (which obviously I could beat) having heard only "check". Floor!

He accused me of angle-shooting. Probably I should have showed him my flush but I wasn't interested in sharing.

Down to about T17K, maybe a bit more. No cards. No hurry. It's mostly keeping me out of trouble, anyway.

Card Sense 1, Common Sense 0

I raised with KJs from (relatively) early position. Overaggressive player in the 3 (he's vibrating like a Cop On The Edge) reraises from the SB. I call knowing that a good flop will give me a lot of chips.

Flop comes jack high. He checks. Somehow I know I'm beat and check behind. Turn is a blank. He checks again. This time I'm counting out chips but change my mind and check again. River is another blank, he makes a half-pot bet of T1000, I call, he shows queens.

So I lost T2000 with top pair good kicker. But at least I had a good read.

The guy's a nut. He's bluff-checkraised into a straight on the river when only holding top pair. I think I may get my chips back.

Sorry, T.J.

Coming into the first break with one T100 chip less than I started with. No cards. I've played one pot where I turned two pair with ATo; player on my left folded to a smallish river bet.

Every steal I've attempted has succeeded, so obviously I should be stealing more.

One pair so far, 22, and it was with two limpers and a raise ahead of me. I folded.

Chip count: T19900, 50/100 blinds when we come back.

The Advertising Budget

Haven't played a pot in forever. Buttson-raised with J6o. Took it down. It's the small victories that are best.

No cards. I'm in no hurry, but I need to raise once in a while to buy some action once I get them. I think.

Blair Rodman and (I think) Maureen Feduniak are on my left. Don't recognize anyone else. Juanda and Darden are one table over, D'Agostino's nearby, Hellmuth just made his entrance a while ago. Tough field.

Cards In The Air Like You Just Don't Care

I'm up T100. Not much when you consider starting stacks are T20K, but it's a start.

Mile One

This is a marathon.

Cards in the air now, ostensibly, but the line is still huge and a lot of players haven't taken their seats yet. I can see the stacks of chips, though. They're pretty. I already want more of them.

The Big Dance

All you gotta do is not get broke. Every day.


I've got less buyer's remorse about this than I had when dropping nearly twice that on a new car. Funny how one win changes things. I've gotten used to making a read and going with it. Once you put down the money, you're committed.

My read is that I have a shot. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

I'm confident, but not overconfident. The way you feel about your hand doesn't change what it is.

To paraphrase Hemingway, I'll try simply to play the best poker I can; I might get lucky and play better than I can. It's more often true in poker than in writing.

Early on in a tournament, when I make a marginal call, I'm almost always right. I need to find that ability when things get deeper, when the bets are more significant. I'm good with a shortstack, but I need to get better at not becoming one.

This is Day 1. There's a lot of room to maneuver in the early going. If I get broke today, it won't be because I played badly; it'll be because I got unlucky.

I can live with that.

Phil's Favorite Part Of The Show: I Report, You Decide

Hand #1: (KK vs. ??, QJx flop with two clubs; pot is T12300, you have T20K, BB covers) Everyone is obviously in favor of betting here. I chose the hand mainly because it's one I remember and it was a point at which a marginal decision can have a great impact, when you're in that never-neverland where you have to make an arbitrary decision between moving to take down the already extremely valuable pot, and getting full value for your hand - where the size of your stack makes it difficult to make a reasonable bet that both protects your hand and doesn't smell like week-old halibut. When the BB checked, I started building myself a little mental chip abacus. I knew how much was in the pot and how much I had left, but I couldn't decide how much to bet. On a less-coordinated flop I would probably bet about half the pot or a little more (my continuation bets are usually a little more than 1/2 pot, though the time for continuation bets was pretty much over at this point in the tourney). A half-pot bet gives him 2:1 to call and pretty near commits me (pot of T24K, I have 14K remaining). If he has a drawing hand I'd really rather he didn't play it, all things considered. I probably can't get away from my hand so I want to get the most money I can in on the flop. Full-pot bet seems a little silly/fishy to me. I'd see through it - you're going to bet 12K and leave just 8K behind? You have to love your hand to do that. It wrecks the drawing odds, sure, but it also makes it easier to get away from second pair. Top pair probably isn't going anywhere anyway. I'd seen this opponent checkraise on more than one occasion, but I'd also seen him smooth-call with a set and draws. Solid player, aggressive, not a big fan of being pushed around. So I narrowed down my decision to two possible bet sizes: tiny and all-in. If I bet out 3K or 4K, and he has any piece of the flop, he's likely to raise me. The raise is preferable, to me, as if he smooth-calls I'm forced to shut down. If he has QJ or a set I'm going to go broke here; I'm not good enough to get away from KK in this situation just yet. If I shove all-in, he may put me on AK or TT and call with any piece of the flop. I finally decided that the pot was valuable to me already, that I didn't want to give a cheap card (with AK I might just call a 1/4 pot bet there, too) and that there were a number of hands he could call me with that I could beat. I shoved. He debated - he definitely wanted to call me - but finally he said "We're not there yet," and mucked. He seemed fairly confident that he'd folded the best hand, which to my mind just reconfirms that he didn't. Hand #2: (T2o vs. limper (??) and SB (??), 89T flop with two spades, pot is T5400, you are BB with 18K behind, SB checks) This is, to my mind, a let's-separate-the-men-from-the-boys kind of hand. You have very little information, a very vulnerable hand, and a huge stack that has position on you. The limp from the big stack is very suspicious to me. (In a poker tournament it's not paranoia - they really are out to get you.) This player is reasonably observant and has a big enough stack that he could limp with a monster and hope one of the blinds catches enough of the flop to make a kamikaze run at the pot. It took me a little while to check behind the SB, but check I did. I don't like to lead into an unknown hand with a hand that can't stand a reraise, and though it's hard to put the limper on a particular hand, I don't think it's 23o. I'm crushed by a large number of limp-worthy holdings even if he doesn't have a monster. My equity isn't that great against something like 78 (or even 77), 88 and 99 have me all but dead, T9, JT, QT, AT, and let's not forget QJ for the straight. I already went up against that one and I'd rather not do it again so soon. I checked hoping for a free card. Didn't get one. The limper led out for 3500. SB folded immediately. I did the math. 3500 now makes the pot 12.4K, I'll have less than 15K left. Do I want to come that close to committing myself when I think I may be drawing to a three-to-five outer? My read on the limper is that he has something, but I become less trustful of my reads as a tourney progresses and decisions become more consequential. If this were level one and I still had chips to play with I'd call him here - my value calls work amazingly well for me early on. But it's not level one. If I'm wrong I'm out. Folding here just costs me a marginal hand where my edge is thin at best and direly negative at worst. So I gave it up. As a player, I do very well both preflop and postflop when stacks are still deep. I'm awesome with a short stack. It's in the middle ground, the grey areas where all calls and bets are marginal, that I need to do better. It's also in these grey areas that most of the main event takes place. But, you know. If you wanna learn to swim you're going to have to get in the water sometime. And I very badly want to learn to swim.


One Live Card Too Few

I moved in UTG with 96o.

Yeah, 96o. I had T1500 left at 300/600 blinds so half my stack was in blind the next hand. Someone else moved all-in behind me. The fact that that someone had A7o should give you an idea of the crapshootiness happening at this point.

Flop TJQ. 8 good, 9 good, 6 good. Turn Q, river ten, IGHN.

I played my shortstack as well as I've ever played one. Well, except for the time I didn't put all my chips in with 25o - I figured they were two live cards - and would have made two pair and tripled up against AJ and KQ. Poker gods as my witness I almost pulled the trigger there.

Hung La was at my table for the last couple of hours. He's nursing a small stack but looked healthier as I was leaving. As far as I can tell the primary difference between our play is that he had cowboys twice and flopped a set with 55. I had cowboys zero times and flopped middle set at a really bad time.

3:30PM tomorrow I have a date with destiny. Shortly before that I have a (very expensive) date with my player's bank account. Stay tuned!

Resuscitate, If You Please

Little over T2000. 300/600/100 when we come back. Crapshoot mode. Lot of people in the same boat. Need two soubleups or a few successful steals to have any shot whatsoever.

Regretting the JJ hand very much now, though stil, what can I beat there? A few hands earlier I'd just have shoved preflop but I had enough chips to make a standard raise and still be able to get away from it. And every time that guy had called a raise or reraise he'd had a big ace. Moot point, the hand is over.

Time to go broke or go home. Since I'm buying in no matter what I'm pretty much betting ten grand every time I enter a pot now, and I'll be doing it with utter crap. Gamboooool!


I should just fold JJ in early position. One deep-stacked caller behind, flop AQx. How much can I possibly like my hand here? Chips are so precious I can't afford to bet, can't afford to fold... I check-folded. Should have bet.

Just over T3K left, 200/400/50.

Action Is Go

More than doubled up, I have T4300. AK held up against a shorter stack's A8o (though the flop of 79T did not thrill me) and I won a small pot with 66 when the table's tight-weakest player raised my blind when I had 66. T42 flop, I bet, he called. Turn 8, check-check. River 6, I bet, he folds.

Blinds will soon be 200/400/50 so it's still very touch and go.

Tooth And Nail

Moving at every pot that I can. T1500, still 100/200.

Holy Fucking Shit

Set over set over set. 873 flop, I had 77. Guy to my left had 88. Mickey Applebaum in the 1 seat had 33.

I still have T1000 left, but blinds will soon be 100-200. Wish me luck.


I guess my posts are showing up out of order. Sooner or later one will arrive in which my 11AM satellite life undergoes a startling turn for the better. Obviously it wasn't enough, though it was a bit of a rush to quadruple up over the course of two hands.

Half an hour until the last satellite starts. Just enough time to digest my BLT and down some sweet, sweet Gatorade.


Blinds of 300/600/100 are killing me. Everyone's short so it's a pushfest. I'm already down to 4300. Need a hand.

There's A Hole In The Bucket

...and my stack just fell through it. I was down to near 4000 when another shortstack pushed. I had 22 and was pretty sure it was a race. He had AJo. Flopped an ace, turned a flush.

Not a bad experience all in all. My inclusive list of playable hands appears here:

AJo JJ 77 55 22 KJo A8o (when desperate)

...and that is that. About four hours of play. I'm beginning to get the sense that you need to catch a couple of cards to place in these things.

Will try again at 7PM.


We don't get 75-150 level - went straight to 100-200. I have 1550 left, will be in uber-short mode soon.

Drought continues.

Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning

...but it's a little easier when there's poker to be played. I'm no longer used to rising at 8AM, and neither is Commerce - none of the sit-down restaurants are open yet, nor the deli, so I'm trying to figure out what I can scavenge from the donut stand. I could go with tacos but they're not looking good at the moment. Not that they ever are.

The stairs are also out of order, for some reason - carpet cleaning crews set up what looks like one dehumidifier/fan to cover, oh, about an acre of carpet - so getting up to the ballroom takes a substantial elevator wait. The line upstairs isn't running terribly efficiently either, but I've got my seat with a little time to kill. I expect there'll be at least 25 tables, maybe more - one of the tourney directors said they already sold 15 tables' worth and the line is currently growing every minute.

I'm once again cautiously optimistic. Structure permitting (and I hope it's better than the $225 rebuy supers) my game is pretty well geared toward outlasting 90% of the field already so at least I'm not nervous about it.

Okay, maybe a little nervous. But I've got another shot if the first one goes awry.

Table Change Your Luck

I had T1900 left when I got moved to table 30. Two hands later I was over T8000.

First hand: I raise 750 from MP with A8o. Bigger stack moves all-in. I call. He has A4o. Flop has two eights.

Second hand: all-in behind me for about 1500. I reraise all-in with JJ. One caller behind with TT. Original pusher has KJ. No K and all of a sudde I'm alive.

200/400/50, T7800 or so. Not a big stack but it'll do for now.

Folding Is Almost Always The Right Move

T1850 left (T2000 to start), blinds at 75-150 after the break. Amazingly crappy run of cards. I've had AJo (won a small pot) and 77 (lost a small pot after calling a preflop raise; flop came QQ8, he checked, I checked behind, he checkraised my half-pot turn bet and I gave it up). Otherwise nothing but junk - paint-rag, rag-unconnected-rag, occasionally suited-but-unconnected-rag-rag. Oh, I got KJs in relatively early position, raised it to test my table image, folded to a preflop reraise - I've been so tight he had to have a monster to reraise me there.

My most profitable hand so far: 26o, which won a four-way pot with bottom pair. 50-100 blinds, UTG was short and moved all-in for 150. One caller, SB calls, I call. Deuce on the flop and somehow my hand is good by the river. 11-to-1 is about the right odds for 26o there, I think.

Back to the table. Need some cards soonish, my M is only 8 and the levels are 30 minutes.


Phil's Favorite Part Of The Show

A couple of hands from yesterday on which I'm seeking reader opinion. I'll discuss the actions I took in a later post. These are all late-tournament situations; my chip counts may not be entirely accurate but they're close enough. Hand #1: 9-handed, 500/1000/200. You are in EP2 with T25000 in chips. You have KsKh and make your standard opening raise of 5000. (The pot is T3300 before any cards are dealt; thus even a raise to T4000 gives the blind better than 2:1 to play. I never vary my opening raise.) All fold to the big blind, a solid player who has been on a small rush and has about 40K in chips; he calls. The flop comes QcJc2h. BB checks. The pot is T12300; you have T20000 left. Your action? Hand #2: 9-handed, 600/1200/200. You are BB with T18000 and are dealt Tc2d; you have not rigorously defended your blind for the last several orbits. A tricky, normally aggressive player with a monster stack (90K) limps from early position. SB completes, you check to see the free flop, which comes 8s9sTd. The SB checks. The pot is T5400. Your action?

Bubble Of The Bubble's Bubble

Lucksack on my left busted me. I had about 11K chips with blinds at 1000/2000/300. Folded to me on the button, where I held A5o. Anybody not go broke there when the SB wakes up with AJs? I had seven outs on the turn (gutshot and the 5), but that was just cruel hope.

I probably would have moved there with anything better than 92o (which, ironically, would have won the hand going away with two pair), or, hell, I would have moved with any two. The ace was just icing.

I finished 39/697. 36 pay. Hooray for a top-heavy payout structure, I guess.

I made a couple of folds I regret now - all bad plays with good results. Twice I folded 99 in EP and someone woke up with aces behind. It was at the point in the tourney where I don't like to play marginal hands with big stacks yet to act, and I had big stacks to my left for the last few hours. Mostly I was getting junk anyway, so no loss, but those were exceptionally tight folds and I've gotta get used to gambling a little more when I need chips. (Though I was a medium stack at the time - in that never-neverland where if you open and get reraised, it's for all your chips.) Probably I shouldn't have laid down the AJ vs. KK hand mathematically speaking either, but I had a pretty dead read on the guy. I'm not especially experienced, but he was very, very green. I read him for a monster (despite the way he'd played his earlier monsters) and, whaddaya know, I was right.

Small fuckin' comfort. I had a pretty good run and can't complain.

Yeah, I'm playing the main event. By hook or crook. Live updates will be liberal and as detailed as possible. Might go dark for a day or two until then. Good luck, y'all.

Waiting For The Pop

T18K or so, waiting for a hand. Something like 40 players left, 36 pay (I was wrong earlier).

Lucksack to my left has gotten AA three times in the last orbit, each time reraising all-in, never getting called.

Whoops, 13K. I folded AJo to his min-reraise. He had KK. Cut me a slice of that, please.

Legit shortstack now. Maybe bubble boy.


The Secret Of Blinds And Antes

They suck. T20Kish, 500/1000/200 and going up.

Huge pot developing at my table. Winner may be tourney chipleader. I think it's Pete Lawson. Or somebody who looks a lot like him.

I guess four tables pay. Seven left.

Easy Decisions

Lot of tough players with sizable stacks at the table - steals aren't easy to come by, especially with 92o and hands of that ilk. But I'm still above par and the shortstacks are in psychotic mode now.

T20K on the nose, can't remember if blinds will be 500/1000/100 or 600/1200/100. Probably the latter. Maybe even 200 antes. Crap, we're all short stacks!

Racing For My Life

I called off all my chips with AKs when Humberto reraised an EP raiser. He had 77. KKx flop, x not being 7, and no help for him on turn or river.

22K chips, 400/800/100. Nine tables left.

Staying Ahead Of The Pac-Men

T9400 or so, about to be 400/800/100. Picked up KK and snapped off a Brenes raise, but I couldn't make an action-inducing reraise. He thought about calling, too long for mere Hollywood, but finally folded.

It's feast or famine here - no big card combos like AK or AQ, just big pocket pairs or nothin'. Well, I did fold 66 to a raise and a reraise, but that's just common sense. At least I'm not having to play any actual poker.

Brenes In The House

Humberto just sat down to my right. I had as many chips as he did until I slowplayed the monster stack to my left into catching his flush. T6900, 300/600/75. About to get ugly.

Undesirable Circumstances

Monster stack on my left. Lunatic, too, he just went all-in on the river in an unraised pot. Meanwhile, they keep moving shortstacks to the right of me. Haven't been able to steal once.

On the upside, monsters will pay. Please, give me monsters.

Don't Do Anything Stupid Mode

... is what I'll be in after the dinner break. I have T10.5K, which is well above par, but sparks are going to fly because it's 200/400/50 when we come back, neatly cutting my M in half. It's Omaha Beach.

So I think I'll be sitting back and hoping to get away with stealing. I've always shown down good hands so hopefully that'll buy me some credit.

I had a couple of tense moments. Lost a chunk of my stack when the shortstacked button raised with KK and I set him all-in with AQ. Queen-high flop but no help after that, and blinds and antes chipped me down to T7600. Then I got KK to hold up against AJ (jack-high flop) and busted the table's former captain. A bit later I picked up AA UTG; the only player at the table who had me covered is on my left and his flat-call made me nervous, so I led at the jack-high flop because he'd shown a propensity for chasing draws and there were two clubs out there. Thought about trapping but if he checks behind and catches a two-outer on the turn I'm done for.

BLT time. Longest line ever at the snackbar so I'll have to chow down when I finally get it.

Miracles Happen

AK calls an all-in from KK. Ace high flop. K on river.

I just doubled up the donkey way, chasing a draw. I had AsTs and the flop came jack high with two spades. I thought I might have the best hand but didn't think it was the right time to push plus I had position and could win extra bets if I hit. I planned to move in on the turn but a queen came out and something told me it hit him, so I just called. River was the queen of spades. I call and MHIG; he had KQ. (Whew.)

T11000 or so, 100/200 blinds.

Thank My Lucky Stars And Garters

Doubled up with trip aces in the big blind against someone who really shouldn't have pushed his flush draw on the turn. Didn't hit.

T5900, 75-150. I won't make the mistake of tasting the BLT already, but it does sound good.

A Little Something To Kill The Pain

Hit a minor landmine, button-raising with AQo and ending up calling a very short stack's all-in. He had JJ, I didn't improve. T2900 at the break, 75-150 blinds. The good news is that everyone else is in the same boat except for the big stack at the table, who's very willing to gamble and on whom I have position most of the time.

Had AA once and busted a guy when the flop came 665, I bet, he moved in, everyone else folded. He was pretty short, I had to call T500 to win T1700. He had 88. No miracle for him.

697 entrants in this event and from the sound of it they're still only paying 27 places. Ridiculous, but a nice payoff for the survivors.

Back to the grind. Here's hoping I'm still alive to enjoy my BLT in a couple of hours.

Speed Demons

Forgot how fast this structre ends up being. A little over two levels in, I have T4000 now (T2000 to start), but blinds are already 50-100, they'll be 75-150 when we come back from break. Shorter stacks + shorter limits = Dodge City.

My table is bad beat central, lots of all-in overbets on the flop, etc. Short stacks keep showing up and busting so I'm more or less keeping my head down without decent cards. Going to try a steal at first opportunity to test my table image.

Don't Make Any Plans

Back at Commerce after a couple days' rest. I expect the field today will probably be a little weaker than in the last few events, as the $540 buyin can't be that attractive to those pros who often post more than that in the blind. Structure is a little faster (40 minute levels, T2000 to start) but I've done fairly well with that.

Luck permitting I'll be here for the next nine days or so; back tomorrow if I make the money today, then Wednesday for the 1K supers, then Thursday onward for the main event (dare to dream!). Today should be a good warmup for the supers as I expect they'll have a similar structure.

I've been thinking back to how I went out in the last couple of events and trying to figure where I went wrong.

I went out of the $1500 on an admirably boneheaded play, of course - in retrospect he pretty much has to have a good pair to call the reraise there. With AK he's either going to jam or fold, because otherwise he's putting in more than a quarter of his stack to see a flop out of position and not absolutely certain where he is even if he flops top pair. Coulda used some deep game-theory think on that one. Once he sets me in I still think I have to call, as so many of my chips are in that even the three-outer is worth chasing, and I think he's going to be capable of making that move with TT or JJ. Lesson learned, anyway - the price of one mistake in a NL tourney can be very, very high.

The $2500 was a series of smaller errors. The hand that hurt the most was QQ vs. AA. The loose player on my right had opened for T400, I'd reraised to 1200, the short stack in the one seat went all-in for T1600 more, so I was getting a tiny bit better than 2-to-1 on my call. Yes, he did put in a third raise, but his stack was short enough and he was an active enough player that I put him on AA-TT or AK. He'd put his stack in very aggressively so maybe I gave a little more weight to AK than I should have.

The very next hand I got AKo, raised it, got two callers and whiffed the flop, folded to action when I realized I had zero fold equity even if I tried a bluff.

The hand I went out on... I dunno. Button limped, small blind completed, I checked. Yeah, I blew all my chips on a draw, but it was a big draw and I had reason to believe I had as many as 17 outs twice if I was called. (89T flop with two hearts; I had KhQh.) My flop checkraise was a massive overbet but I don't really care if I get the action or the pot at that point; taking the pot bumps my M up by 4 and winning gives me a much-needed double, and I want to get those chips in on the flop when I stand a pretty reasonable chance of being a favorite anyway. The button was very aggressive and would auto-bet when checked to. Unfortunately the button had QJ for the nuts on the flop. From the way he winced when I turned up my hand I'm ready to mark it as a good play that just didn't work out. I could tell the table was getting ready to play sheriff to my shortstack raises, having gone all-in four times without a caller, and I could have well gotten my money in later with a lot less than 40% or so of equity.

On the other hand I went broke in an unraised pot. But I think check-calling that flop is out of the question and any raise on my part commits me. If I'd led the flop and he'd raised I probably would have shoved as well; the only way I think I can possibly get away from the hand is if I lead small and he smooth-calls on the flop, then I check and he makes a big enough turn bet to wreck my drawing odds, but given my stack and the possibility that a king or queen makes my hand good as well I think I have to press the fuck-it button and call anyway.

That's enough of a post-mortem for me. Time to stop thinking about the ghosts of hands past and worry about the future instead.


Oops Again

Massive checkraise all-in with flush draw and overcards: okay, but only if opponent has noy flopped nut straight.

I'm out.

Almost A Double

I clear out three limpers when I shove with 77. T2475.


I'm good at patience. I'm just okay with holding it when I really need to go.

Guess which is causing me more trouble at the moment?

T1575, still 100-200.

Not As Many Chips, Same Number Of Chairs

Can't get in first, can't get a hand when I'm not. T1175, 100-200.


T1475, 100-200 blinds. Just waiting for something I can push (or an opening).


Ran QQ into a substantially shorter stack's AA. Then AK got two callers and missed. Down to, er, T1700. 75-150 blinds.

Shortstack time. It's a familiar view.

Treading Water

Down to T4900 at the break. Not worried, though I'd like some chips by the dinner break because antes will kick in by then.

I swear the guy two to my right is Lance in disguise. I have a good table overall - no recognizable pros, pretty loose, so if I hit a hand in a multiway pot I'll get paid off well.

Easy Does It

My game is screwed down pretty tight. Up to about 6K in chips (5K to start), making small value bets and marginal (but good) calls. Lot of pocket pairs so I've seen a fair number of flops; turned one set and got some action, otherwise not much.

Good run of cards but I've always had to play them fast. AA twice (once got the blinds, the other the blinds plus a raise), KK (folded on A-high flop). QQ hit a set but three diamonds out there made me play it very, very fast.

Ok, 5800 now. Still decent, we've had a couple of early bustouts. No name pros at the table yet but some very good players.

Okay, Maybe I Am Still A Little Rattled

"You liveblogging tonight?" asks Nickerson. Why, of course I am.

Unless I forget a fairly crucial piece of liveblogging apparatus at home, that is. That being, you know, my phone.

Fortunately I believe in leaving no reader behind. I crawled my way to the next exit, turned around and went back home. Traffic had miraculously cleared some by the time I got back on the 101.

I can't believe I just dropped $2600 on a tournament entry. That was half my bankroll not so long ago. This thing keeps getting weirder and weirder. I hope the weird keeps on coming.


Mea Culpa

"That was some of the best flying I've seen yet - right up until the part where you got killed."
I've posted plenty of hands here in which I'm the hero. In this one, I'm the goat. A dumb goat. A very special goat. I wish I could say what it was that came over me. Do I normally reraise with AQ? I do not. Do I normally put a huge, commitment-heavy chunk of my stack into the pot when my reraise has been called and I whiff the flop completely? I do not. Do I normally do both of these things when my seasoned-professional opponent could well be slowplaying a high pocket pair? Not anymore I don't. In my defense, I made a read and went with it. If he has AK he can't call that bet. I thought he had AK. Of course, that's exactly what he wanted me to think, the crafty bastard. The flop was something useless like 369, two diamonds; I did have one diamond. A demi-semi-bluff. Okay, a pure donkey bluff. Once he's reraised me the pot is so huge (and here's another critical error, I took such care to make an I'm-protecting-my-hand-'cause-there's-a-lot-of-money-out-there bet that I neglected to consider how committed I was) that I have to call and pray he's moving on me with TT-KK, because even three outs twice plus a backdoor draw means I have to call off my last money. Temporary insanity. The lack of AC catching up with me. (It was nonfunctional until somewhere around dinnertime.) Glyphic asked if I was tilted from the hand where I flopped top set and inexplicably ran it into a straight, but I don't think that was it - that took a chunk out of me but didn't send me reeling. Though if it hadn't happened I'd most likely still be alive right now, so of course it annoys me now more than it did at the time. Hdouble advised me not to beat myself up any more than necessary, so I stopped at a blacked eye and a slightly split lip. And it isn't the mistake in and of itself that bothers me - it's that it happened when I was playing and doing very well. I was on a roll. If I played that hand the way I usually play that hand, I call his raise, risking less than 10% of my stack. Maybe I take a stab at the flop or the turn if he checks to me, but with no pair and no draw I give it up the second I get any resistance. I did virtually everything wrong: I overplayed my... well, not that I had a hand, but what I did have I certainly overplayed; I misread my opponent; I committed a lot of chips to the pot on a stone bluff with a mathematically insignificant number of outs. About the only thing I did remotely "right" was to astonish M. Pescatori, who had to be expecting me to flip up tens or jacks at the least. I'll say this: Max is a good one. He smoked me but good, crushing me as thoroughly as I've ever been crushed, but he didn't rub it in, and I doubt he called me a moron under his breath more than five or six times after I left the table, which considering my sudden implosion I surely deserved anyway. I salute you, sir, and thank you for the lesson. Don't expect things to be quite so easy next time.


Me: Confirmed Idiot

I am a) out, and b) out in the dumbest way possible. I haven't exited a tourney in this ridiculous a fashion in ... Well, possibly ever.

Max Pescatori smooth-called my AQ reraise with aces, then let me hang myself with a big bluff on the flop that committed me. Granted, if he didn't have the aces he probably couldn't have called the flop bet. But.

So mad at myself right now. Being busted by noted pros two tourneys in a row: small comfort. I'm going to go snuggle with my wife and cats.

I guess I can chalk it up as experience. It's funny how much "experience" resembles being repeatedly kicked in the head.


Just lost a good chunk of my stack to an insane man. He called a fifth of his stack from the blind with 53s. Flop 642. I had 66.

Evelyn Ng is on my left. Max Pescatori just joined the table too.

Everything's Coming Up Milhouse

I had 11K or so just as they announced the dinner break. Before I left for dinner I had 15K.

Kenna James took a couple of bad beats and from the look of things he didn't want to play a shortish stack after the dinner break. He moved all-in UTG and begged for someone to call him. I looked down in the BB and found AKo. So, what the fuck, I called. Ace-high flop. Four spades out by the river but neither of us had one.

So. 15K, 100/200 blinds, M of 50. Pretty good for dinner break. Now to go into "don't do anything stupid" mode. At least until the antes come in. Then I'm a thief on a mission.

Well, Shit

Now Kenna James is on my left. I hear he can play a little.

Lucky Me

T8000 at the break. Close to T13K now when my cowboys held up over Ah8h on a Q92 flop, two hearts. Still 50-100 blinds.

It's a little early to be celebrating, but I do have over 1% of the chips in play. Gonna try to start muscling the table when the blinfds get to 75-150 or so.

Good Start

Flopped bottom set in a multiway pot and got a lot of action. Then I bludgeoned everyone out of a substantial side pot when I flopped a pair of aces and the nut flush draw.

We get 3K to start. I have 8500. Nine minutes in.

Your Assistance Is Requested

James Van Alstyne on my immediate left. Anyone know anything about his game?

One Thing I Forgot To Mention

Dustin 'Neverwin' Woolf was on my right for a fair length of time Monday night. But not as much time as he could have been, as he kept getting up from the table and running downstairs to play a few hands at an incredible NL game.

For a while he was actively trying to bust out, raising a lot of hands, calling with very marginal hands. I nearly got his stack when I got a free look in the BB with 35o.

Flop: 246, two clubs.

He led at the flop, I raised big (another player active and I didn't want to see a club come out), he moved in, I instacalled. He had 45o for the ol' pair-and-a-gutshot. Turn was a 7. River was a 3 and we chopped it. He was very apologetic. I was just happy he didn't runner-runner a boat.

Don't Want To Remember, Can't Afford To Forget

In Monday night's tourney I spent a lot of time across the table from a guy named Duke, an affable Canadian who built a sizeable stack gambling on a couple of flush draws, then built an absolute monster stack by pounding the shit out of the table on a regular basis. Once it became clear that he was intent on raising four times every orbit (we were eight-handed at the time), I was looking for a chance to move my stack in against him. Just one reasonable hand, I asked the dealer. KJo. T9s. Pocket fours. Ace-anything. Any of those I'm coming over the top of that guy and taking my chances, bubble be damned. And the dealer said, bucko, you had your chance. The dealer was right. I had had a chance to double up against him earlier, a hand that I now regret folding. He'd obviously been loose but wasn't bludgeoning everyone at the table with his stack just yet. He raises from UTG+2. I'm in the small blind with TT; the table folds to me. I know that if I call big blind will go away - he's supertight and likely to see my flat call as a monster hand. I don't reraise. I just call. We'll call that mistake number one. Not a colossal mistake; I think the big stack is unlikely to lay down two overcards. I have a plan, which is to look for a safe flop and check-raise all-in, since I know he'll make a continuation bet. Calling the raise has only cost me about a sixth of my stack. Flop couldn't really get any better; 893. Two diamonds, one club. I check. Don't mind me, sir, just laying these leaves and branches out here for no particular reason whatsoever. "I put you all-in," he says. Fuck. Me. He's overbet the pot by a huge sum. His bet (all my chips) is like four times the pot. I'm reasonably sure I didn't give away my intentions; I wasn't eyeing his stack or my own, wasn't changing my posture, wasn't doing anything but what I usually do. Getting your opponents off-balance is critical in these games. I pride myself on my sense of balance during a tourney. I keep a cool head, I make tough calls, once in a while a daring bluff. I don't let the possibility of losing all my chips override the pure math of a situation. And yet this bet has me floored. I have no idea what he has. He could be pushing a draw, as I've seen it before. He could be protecting a hand against the draws that are out there. He could have flopped a set. He could be running a stone bluff with overcards, or he could have A9 for TPTK. There are a lot of hands I can beat; trouble is, he could have a lot of hands that beat me, too. All he needs is JJ. 98. Pair and a flush draw, which would be near a coinflip. I could be drawing to two outs or be a substantial favorite. All it's going to cost me to find out is all my chips. I planned this. Get a safe flop, get all my chips in. I got the flop I wanted and the opportunity to play it for all my chips. But looking at the board I can't see myself calling. Can't push the chips in. I think about Phil Gordon's description of Spirit Rock's play, how you never know if he's overbetting a big draw or a made monster. If I call and I'm right I have a big stack, maybe the biggest at the table. If I'm wrong I'm out. If I fold my stack is still healthy. I can afford to fold. He knows I can afford to fold. What does he have me on? I flat-called him, he's got to think I have something. Maybe KQ. He could have JJ and just not want to give me a price on a card. What does he think I have? Mostly I think he doesn't care. If I had something I'd have bet it. I can't get my head around the math. Too many possibilities. Somewhere between two outs and a 3:1 favorite. The range is just too broad. I wanted this and now I can't have it. It makes a lot of difference to me whether I bet all my chips off or call them off. It's a big difference. I don't have the tough call in me. JJ, I'd call. QQ in a second. KK, well, he never would have seen the flop. But TT... I give it up, say "Nice bet," and pat the table with my cards. Muck. Twenty minutes later I would have called in a heartbeat. Twenty minutes later I would have just come over the top before the flop. But in poker we don't have the benefit of twenty minutes later. All you get is what you know now and what you remember from the past. And you need to know now whether that's going to be good enough if you're put to the test. I thought I'd thought of everything; I failed to consider the possibility that my opponent had thought of one thing more. I planned to put him to the test and he put it right back on me. Duke took second to Can Kim Hua. I finished twenty-sixth. That right there is all the difference you need to know.


Eat Your Heart Out Jerry Lewis

BG has a tear in his colon. Anybody who's got the guts to come out and say that deserves a double sawbuck. You don't even have to give until it hurts. Little story: My younger brother was, at the age of 13, diagnosed with leukemia, a disease he thankfully pounded the shit out of. The hospital bill for the first thirty days, not including doctor's fees or laboratory fees (and you can bet those weren't small either): a quarter of a million dollars. Yeah, we had good insurance, but there was still a healthy chunk of out-of-pocket change to cover. Sickness isn't cheap even for the well-insured. DrPauly has the details. If you're bored by details, you can take a leap and make your completely non-tax-deductible donation to: Full Tilt: GamblingBlues Stars: HeyKidsItsBG

Over And Out

25th or 26th-place finish, I think. Can Kim Hua busted me. It was nice to see him again. He open-raised from the button for about half my chips, I looked down and saw AK (the best hand I'd seen in two hours, literally), shoved, he called, he has QQ. Q88 flop. River is a useless ace just - thanks, poker gods!

At least I can take tomorrow off and finish up some nigh-overdue writing assignments. I may post a bit tomorrow to give a tourney overview.

Oh, Evelyn Ng was at my last table. I know some of you out there like to hear such things. She was shortstacked, but obviously she's going to finish higher than I did. Next time I'm taking her down, though.

Past The Bubble

...but with only 12K in chips. A whole level, nothing remotely playable, or I'd have gone to war with it.

Blinds are 600/1200/200 for a rockin' M of 3. Shortstack time again.

Broomcorning Into The Bubble

So. Card. Dead.

Monster stack stealing at will. I've lost half my stack to antes and blinds.

One Of These Days, Alice

Rockets near tripled me up. 27K, 400/800/100.

Lucky, lucky, lucky. Won a race with 22 vs AJ.



QQ vs. TT. I hit a Q on the flop.

11K in chips, 300/600/75. 5 tables left, all 9-handed, so we're 18 off the bubble.

Shortstack Time

T5200, 200/400/50.

This is the crush. Time to take chances.


I raise UTG+1 with KQs. A shorter stack, one I've tangled with before, reraises all-in. Pot lays me two to one. I'm not thrilled.

From looking at him I decide he doesn't want a call. Finally I call. He has JJ. K-high flop and I'm alive again.


History Repeats

T3250. I ran ATo into a shortstack's aces.

Whoops, T2550. 99 and 44 see the worst flops ever and fold.

OK, T3200 again. I get pushy and reraise with AJs. Fold equity is gold.


Yes, the posts are coming in in an order that doesn't remotely resemble the order in which they were written. Email hiccups or something.

Here's a few lousy hands:

50-100, I button-raise to T300, Can Kim Hua pops it for T1200 more. It looks like a resteal to me but I have KTo.

75-150, UTG makes it 450, I call, player to my left calls. I have 99. Flop is AQJ two spades, about the ugliest possible flop for 99, which is what I have. Check, check, player to my left goes all-in. Fold, fold. I show the all-in player my hand as I fold. He says he had JJ.

75-150, I limp with 44 hoping to start a party, it folds around to SB who pops it 400 more. He's deep enough for me to get paid if I flop a set in position so I call. Flop comes ATT. My cards are in the muck a few microseconds after his chips touch the felt.

One ok hand:

100-200, CO raises to 600, button calls, I jam from the SB with ATo, everyone folds. I may have already mentioned this one. Button (who may be the guy mentioned below) says he folded a pair. Fold equity: it's not just for dinner anymore.

I think Dustin Woolf is to my right. Unless there are two neverwins running around out there. He likes to steal blinds.

Anyway. Back to action. I need some chips; send good vibes. If I had any to spare I'd send 'em right back.

Musical Chairs

I started at Table 4. Then they broke us and moved us to Table 3, where they immediately had us pass our seating cards in. Less than an orbit later they broke us and moved me to Table 2, where again they immediately had us pass our seating cards in.

Table 17 looks like it'll hold together a little longer. My table image is shot, my chip count is down a bit (though I've built it back some, thankfully).

Same As It Ever Was

T4000 at the dinner break, 100-200 blinds. At least I've been here before. I was down well below starting chips but clawed my way back.


T5450 at the first break (we started with T3000), 50-100 blinds when we come back.

No big hands yet; had JJ but limped with it because there were a lot of players in already and a lot of players are willing to take chances preflop with junk (including me, this time). AQ3 flop, JC Tran led from the small blind, I folded. Most of my chips have come from lucky rivers, either enough to let me call a small bluff or good enough that my value bets have been called.

If history is any judge I'll have half of my present chips at the dinner break. First time for everything, though.

Unluck Of The Draw

Four people I recognize at my table. Davin Anderson and Can Kim Hua are to my left. Then JC Tran and Mickey Mills. There was another Asian player I didn't recognize here earlier; he had a jewel-encrusted 2005 WPO bracelet.

I've gotten lucky and chipped up with baby suited connectors. Took a healthy chunk off Anderson when he caught me bluffing but when he raised me on the turn I had four to the flush. Checkraised the river and he folded.

Can Kim Hua has a huge stack after getting action on a set of kings early and a guy went to war with him on another hand where he'd flopped a boat and turned quads. He was raising a lot early on but seems to have settled down now.

Davin Anderson out now. No replacement yet.

Big Boys

Obviously some of the pros are out. Just met Chris Bigler. Might have seen Evelyn Ng, not sure. Can Kim Hua is here, presumably Men The Master is still here too.

A-game may fall victim to the bell curve. But I'm not gonna lie down and die.

Popeye Needs His Spinach

Gift shop out of Gatorade. No resupply until tomorrow. An unauspicious discovery.


Just bought into today's $1580 NLHE, once again the biggest event I've ever entered. Playing three events this week; I looked at my spreadsheet last night and realized that if I cash in just one I'm guaranteed a net profit for the Classic even if you discount event #1. Bombing out of all three will cost me a grand at most. I have to be due for an early exit one of these times but I'll take my luck while it lasts.

I haven't looked at the all-around player points board for a while but I suspect that even with the ten points I picked up on Friday I'm well out of the running - there have to be five or six players around a hundred points and I have sixty, meaning that I'd have to make final four in at least one of the four remaining events I'm playing to have a shot at the top five, which is what pays. Odds of that are quite long. But if you told me three weeks ago that I'd even have a ghost of a chance of just being on the list, I'd have laughed at you. If my giant leap doesn't get me into freeroll territory, well, it got me far enough.

I appreciate the comment sympathy I've gotten below. I feel the need to temper my remarks a bit, though. Context is everything, and while I don't appreciate the actions of my fortunate opponent, I certainly understand them. As end-zone celebrations went, it was fairly tame compared to a lot of what I'd seen here, and he had just gone from chip-and-a-chair to a reasonably healthy stack. On the flop he was just a five-outer away from losing it again, and we all know those come along more often than it seems they should. If our positions were reversed I'd like to think I'd accept my good fortune with a little more humility and respect, and I never would have walked away from the table during a hand in the first place, which was what set off the whole brouhaha. Despite what I may think of his decisions in the moment, the guy is obviously a good player - he took second in an earlier event, and coming back to beat the remaining field on Friday was no mean feat, as there were a number of tough players with deep stacks. I wish him no ill will. Though you can bet I'll speak up the next time a rule goes unenforced with a couple hundred grand at stake.

As for hypothetical-stripper-assault guy, he can suck it. Context matters, but not that much.


Dipping A Toe

Just reserved a room at a Commerce-convenient hotel for the duration of the LAPC main event. This is what's often called "putting the cart before the horse."


A Chip, A Chair, And A Pact With The Goddamned Prince Of Darkness

I made the mistake of wanting to win last night. It didn't make the game personal for me, it didn't alter any of the decisions I've made. It just hurt more than it should have when I lost. Though the way it went down may have had something to do with that. Poker players are not all princes among men. (Or princesses among women, etc.) There are plenty of players who take their winnings with a smile and their losses with a gentle rapping of the table, but I've dealt with some less flattering representatives of the species in the last couple of days. Last night before the tourney I overheard a little something. The title of the story should be fairly self-explanatory; it's called "The Mouthy Poker Player Proudly - Proudly! - Informs Everyone Within Earshot That He Recently Threatened A Stripper With Physical Violence". Apparently over a dispute involving the proper distribution of dollar bills given out during a multiple-stripper performance, and featuring this sterling line of dialogue, repeated here ver batim:

"I told her, 'You better start acting like a lady before I treat you like a man. You think I won't hit a woman?'"
Yeah. That guy was to my left for the first orbit or so last night, but mercifully not much longer, as he got moved to the other table when we were down to 18. Tourney itself was a bust. I went out 15th. I could have finished higher but for a string of unlikely events. OK, I got no cards, which isn't at all unlikely. I got sandwiched with KQo within the first few hands and lost a few chips refusing to go to war with it. Otherwise I had two (sort of) playable hands, both UTG: 1. AJs, which normally I'd just fold UTG but we were only eight-handed or so. Big blind calls. Flop K99 two spades. I'm committed to the pot and shove when he checks. He assumes I have AK and folds. 2. ... ... ... all right, here's how it happened. I need to digress here for a minute. There's a long list of rules for tournament play. Except that it's not that long. It basically boils down to: one player to a hand, protect your hand, don't act out of turn, don't be a colossal dick to the other players or the dealer, don't say fuck, no phones at the table. I obey all of these rules religiously. Not because I'm hidebound - I could care less about the f-bomb, I think the use of cell phones at the table is rude but banning them is no protection against collusion, and why should they have to make a rule against dickish behavior, anyway? But I obey the rules. I use my phone ten times as often as anyone else in the tourney to send out AIM updates or moblog. When I want to do it, I wait patiently for my turn to come, without telegraphing my actions beforehand. Then I get up, pull my phone out and step away from the table. I do this every time without fail. I've uttered fewer 'motherfuckers' in the past two weeks than I used to let fly in an average day. I obey the rules because it's common courtesy, because it's fair, because I know without them the latter stages of a tournament would likely be decided by a series of stabbings. Some people don't. It's cool. I ultimately don't care if you're a foul-mouthed dickhead who can't stop talking during a hand and have such a painfully undernourished ego that you need to do a dramatic slowroll every damn time you or someone else is all-in during a hand. I don't care if you're too dumb to realize that you have to call blind when you have just over half a big blind left after posting your big blind, considering the value of the blinds and antes. Broken rules and mistakes are ultimately supposed to help me and hurt you so I don't mind if you make them. Unless, by some random chance, a combination of good will, iffy tournament-director calls, and good fortune lets you come back from the brink of extinction to bust someone, and that someone happens to be me. The guy who eventually busted me lost a race for most of his chips. 88 vs. KQ. "I knew I had him," he said before a queen came out, as if either of them could have folded if their cards were face-up on the table given the value of the pot. He drops a few f-bombs. I've seen a number of players get penalties for that. He didn't, not that it mattered. He was down to next to nothing and, rather than making aggressive shortstack plays, he just let himself get anted away. Fold, fold, fold. Hoping for a miracle premium hand, maybe, or just hoping to last into a money jump (which wasn't happening). Finally the blinds have jumped - it's 1000/2000/300, and he has about 1700 left after posting his big blind. The button raises. He thinks, looks at his cards, exposes them to other players (an act for which I have seen a chip leader get a penalty). He has to call 1700 to win 7400 so he's getting better than 4:1 on his money. If he folds the hand, after posting the small blind and ante on the next hand, he'll have 400 behind. He folds. The table is aghast, but, okay, fine, he folds. Two penalty-worthy actions, one mistake dumber than I'd thought possible for this stage of the tourney, and yet he's still alive with four brown chips in what can only technically be called a stack. Fine. He can't be our problem for much longer. On the next deal we realize he can't be anyone's problem. He gets his cards in the small blind, doesn't look at them, and gets up and walks away to talk to some friends sweating him from beyond the rail. Which means that his hand is dead. It's on the way to the muck when he runs back to the table, waving his hands. The tournament director is called and after some debate, his hand is declared live. At the time I shrug it off. I know I wouldn't want to go out that way, and it's obvious what his intent should be - to call all-in with his last 400 in chips. Then again, it certainly seemed obvious to the table that he should have gone all-in on the last hand as well, and he didn't do that, and he declared his action out of turn in any case. But fine, he's broken half of the enforced tourney rules in the last few minutes, what the fuck is one more. Odds are he'll get busted. The button raises, he calls, the big blind folds. The button has A3o. Villain reveals, with much fanfare (he takes his cards off the table, holds them apart from each other, his eyes flicking from one to the other for a few seconds before finally dropping them faceup on the table): AQo, which holds up unimproved. He proceeds to double up a few times, winning a race with A8s against 55, winning with QJ when dominated, winning another random any-two-cards push. Suddenly he's playing a shortstack like you're supposed to, and getting lucky like you need to. I, meanwhile, can get no traction at the table and have been reduced to looking down at KJo UTG+1 and thinking, "Well, I gotta get some blinds sometime." It is the third-best hand I have seen all night. At 1000/2000/300 I literally have enough in my stack to steal once; if I get raised I'm either in for all my chips or a supershortstack. With about 25K left I raise 8K, which may seem a bit high but is pretty much my standard raise for this position. Everyone folds around to the big-blind luckbox, who looks at his cards and moves all-in. Thanks to his recent run, he has me covered, but not by much. Both of us are pretty short and he obviously doesn't mind gambling - of his recent range of hands I'm not a serious dog to any, so getting 2:1 it's a pretty clear call; if I fold I have an M of around 3, I'm in the blind within the next two hands, and I'm surrounded by relatively deep stacks that can afford to knock me out. I ask the dealer to pull in the original bets, which causes the table to grouse - "He has you covered!" Fuck you, gentlemen, I didn't say boo when this fellow across from me had his hand brought back from the grave, I want to get a clear look at the bets and the pot so I know I'm not simply miscalculating. It's a formality but it's well within the goddamn rules. Calling is a formality for me, too. I do. I flip up my KJ. He does his theatrical slowroll: aces. All that and I still don't call him a motherfucker. J on the flop gives me some hope. Ace on the turn kills it. I follow the rules, quietly shake his hand, say "Good game," and go over to collect my prize. As I pass the other table I see that hypothetical-stripper-assault-guy is still alive. Which is why I was tilted. Thanks for reading. Most of these stories have a happy ending, really. I was well-paid for my time and trouble. And the whole point of poker is to make good decisions and exploit those who don't. Sometimes you do the right thing and get punched in the gut - hell, it happens a lot. The difference this time was I actually felt it.



15th place. Megatilted. Will write more after eight beers and a few assaults on a brick wall.

That Was Fast

Down to two tables already. I've lost about 7K in chips but I'm not on life support yet.

Battling Back

35K, 1000/2000/300. Pushed all-in on a K99 flop with two spades after raising UTG with AsJs. No call. He said he had a pair and I believe it, probably TT.

16 left.


I drew two medium stacks to my left; both of them have me covered but only by a little. I'll probably be a little more selective for the first couple of orbits unless I see a good chance to resteal (or pick up a legitimate hand), then try to use my table image for evil. Give 'em some time to forget my maniac moments at close of business yesterday.

The good/bad news is that I have a supershort stack to my right with an M of only 2, so I may be forced to play some marginal hands against him if he's as aggressive as he should be, as he has little chance of folding into a money jump. But he only has a little more than 8K so I can afford to call him with any reasonable hand.

There are only two stacks shorter than mine at the table even though I'm at par. But only one stack is big enough to call me with impunity (he has about 70K and thus wouldn't be crippled if he lost to me). The other stacks range from 57K to 40K, and with the blinds at 800/1600/200 I wouldn't exactly call them big. If a lot of people go out fast there might be room for postflop play but this seems like a tough, aggressive field so I'm not counting on it. Decisions are thus going to be tough, consequential and probably final. Here's hoping final comes later than sooner.

Time To Make The Donuts

I guess there are worse habits. About to head out to Commerce yet again so I can dodge the worst of the Friday traffic. Nothing would suck worse than missing out on a final table because of a Sig Alert. Last night when I went on my all-in binge and tripled up over the course of three hands, the guy next to me commended me on my gutsy plays. I said, "If I have to miss my regular game, I'm damn sure not coming back out here to play a short stack." Homegame attendees, be forewarned that I may make an appearance anyway. If it's because I went out 22nd I expect to be thoroughly on tilt.

Don't Ask Me How

22 remaining at the end of play today. I went push-crazy with my shortstack as 3:30AM approached, figuring I didn't want to make the drive tomorrow to play a 10K stack. Early position with K5s? All-in, no callers. UTG with JTo? All-in. Big blind goes into the tank and finally mucks QJs face-up. Last hand of the night, I am in the big blind, have chipped up to about 18k. Early-position raiser. I look down and see 55. Hey, a hand! I'm not playing a baby pair out of position and if he raised with an overpair, those are the breaks. I shove for the third time in three hands. When it takes a while for him to call I figure I'm racing. He finally calls and shows KJs. A no-paint board doubles me up just in time to put our chips into bags for the night. Chip count: T39.4K, which if my calculations are correct (880,000 or so chips in play) means I have just a teensy, tiny bit under par. 800/1600/200 blinds and antes gives me an M of only 8, but I think the chip leader has only a little over 80K so it's anyone's ballgame at this point. Oh, yeah, some guy called Men The Master is out already. Though no thanks to me - I gifted him with 3K in chips during the time I was at his table after I raised with AKs and whiffed the flop completely. Do you call a value-looking bet with unimproved AK on a board of 52789, three diamonds, when it's Messr. Nguyen betting into you? He seemed somewhat surprised that I checked behind on the turn. Granted, he could easily have been bluffing me with queen high, but I choose to believe I dodged a small-calibre bullet. The lousy part about this is missing the homegame. I hope I'm forgiven.

Holy Cow

Eight off the bubble. Men "The Master" is at my table. He's very intense.

Somewhat short, I have 14K, 400/800/100. Need a doubleup. Might be bubble boy.

Waiting For The Pop

I'm not sure how I keep doing this. It's completely surreal.

Unless I lose my mind and/or have aces cracked on consecutive hands, I'm in the money. I guess that would be a hell of a way to go out anyway.


...came at the right time and doubled me up.

30K, 600/1200/200, 31 remaining.


20K in chips. Semi-bluffs, reraises and a few cards help.

50-some left, par about 15K, 400/800/100. 27 pay.



Lost a chunk of my stack when a new, psychotically aggressive player moved in on me when I raised his flop bet with ATs (AK4 flop). An orbit later I would have instacalled but I just didn't know enough at the time.

T6500 or so, about to be 200/400/50. Ow.

Sucking Is Nice, Resucking Is Better

I chip up to T4000 or so by inducing bluffs when I have top pair no kicker. Then comes the hand of, I think, my LIFE.

UTG raises to T700 (75/150 blinds). I am UTG+1 with queens. I'm not calling to let anyone else in, and I'm not folding yet. So I raise 1100 more, leaving me with about 2k, figuring if he jams I can think about folding.

Everyone gets out of the way. "Raise," he says.

Well, shit.

Then he raises essentially the minimum. He has me covered but it's only by a little. I look at the pot.

There's 3600 in the pot. Plus his 1100 bet. So T4700... Hey, pretty decent odds against an overpair. Which he doesn't necessarily have. I think about it more. If I put in 1100 more I'm committed.

I don't think I have the best hand. But. I don't know that. And if the pot's laying me even close to the odds I need...

I shove, saying "Even if you show me what I think you got I gotta play." He groans, saying "I thought I raised you out." He makes the obligatory call and flips over jacks. Everyone at the table asks me to show my kings. I cannot comply.

In the window: a jack. Fuck me running. Two spades. I have a spade. Turn is another spade. I can feel it coming.

River: no spade.

River is a fucking queen.

T9500 or so at the dinner break, 100/200 blinds. Not sure how many players are left but I have to be above par.

Breaking: Poker Player Loses Mind, Grows Pair

I'm down to T2100 and I'm just plain annoyed at having my blind stolen. So when the older guy in the 9 raises the third straight hand, I look down at A9s in the SB and decide I'm winning this pot. I reraise to 1000. He calls. Flop comes TT4 two diamonds. I have no diamonds. I push for T1100 more, he mucks.

Bad play, good result. I'm giving myself a pass on this one.


Just lost a quarter of my stack (T1000 of 4000). I opened from the CO with QdTd for 300, the BB moved in for 650 more. He had AsKs. I got the queen high flop but it came with two spades. Turn a spade and I am drawing dead.

Right Back Where I Started

T2475, 75/150 blinds. Much more comfortable down here.

Horribly misplayed QQ. Need schooling. Still lost close to the minimum, but.

An Unfamiliar Situation

I'm actually up at the first break - T3675 (2500 to start), 50-100 blinds when we come back. Flopped a set of jacks on a beautiful J53 board after calling the SB's raise. Probably I should have raised the pot on the flop instead of smooth-calling - if he has an overpair I can break him there. But smooth-call he did. Turn was a ten and put two spades out there and I was done slowplaying. He checked, I bet 1000, he folded. Probably AK or AQ and I didn't want to give him gutshot odds.

Got caught bluffing once, didn't get caught bluffing another time. Queen high bet took down a small pot when a river ace fell. Late in the first level I tested my image by making an EP raise with KJo. Image goot, no callers. So I showed the bluff I was caught on (22, K96 rainbow board); the checkraiser kindly showed me the two pair he'd flopped with suited king-rag.

Good table and I think I brought my A game. We'll see how well it holds up.

Ducks In A Row

22 three times already. Two limped pots, one I called a baby raise. No sets.


Table 11, seat 3. I'm not at all superstitious but eleven is my favorite number for reasons far too complicated to explain here.

If I'm not back here tomorrow night, I'm at Murderer's Row. So I really can't lose.

Rounders And Roundabouts

While on my way to the library this morning I took a different path, one that doesn't require a near-suicidal left turn from Sunset. I wasn't paying enough attention and ended up on Santa Monica, so I drove past La Brea and headed up Formosa on my way to the Durant branch. I found an actual roundabout just north of Santa Monica, the only one I've seen in LA, possibly the only one I've seen in the States. I was immediately transported back to Ireland, where on a trip around the country I navigated dozens of the little buggers, each one requiring some intense mental calculus as to which way traffic was flowing and what side of the road I needed to be on when I exited. Since I did most of the driving on that trip a lot of the country is an impressionistic green blur in my memory, split-second panoramic glances taken between moments of absolute terror of the car behind me and hypothetical terror of the inevitable sheep herd around the bend. Still, easily the most beautiful place I've seen. With the switch to the Euro and the dollar in the crapper it's not quite the value it used to be, but I highly recommend it.

After I busted out of event #12 the other night I played a couple of satellites. One I got all my money in as a favorite (though technically behind - AsKs vs. Q7o, QsTsx flop), the other I made a critical mistake in the early going when I let a limp-reraiser push me off a hand. I misjudged the size of the pot, which I wouldn't have done had I just asked the dealer to pull the bets in. I'd raised substantially with several limpers behind, gotten one cold-caller, then UTG reraised. He had a big stack already and his reraise didn't even commit him. If I'd looked at the pot and thought a bit more I'd have realized that even at 4.5-to-1 my hand was going to be worth playing.

I folded JJ. Cold-caller moved in for a few more chips and showed AKo. Limp-reraiser had TT. Ouch. J-high flop. Double ouch. Bad mistake on my part; the structures in the satellites are fast enough that you're probably correct to risk all your chips with any pocket pair TT or better once you've committed 25% or more of your stack to a pot. I went out a while later when I raised from the CO with KTs, the button put me all-in, I did the math and realized I had to call even with a dominated hand. He had ATs.

During the first satellite I was playing with a number of people I recognized, which isn't the best sign. One is a regular here and we've often been close together in the standings, which isn't surprising since we have very similar styles - cautious in the early going, willing to gamble when short, willing to make a big laydown when we're not desperate. He asked me if I had my seat for the main event here yet. I said no and that I wasn't sure I was going to play it. "You should play, you good player," he said.

I'm still not sure about that, and 10K is an awfully big buy-in to risk on a question mark. If I make one more decent cash in the remaining events I'll probably commit to buying in; if not I may take a shot at up to three 1K satellites, since even a two-way chop in one of them would get me a discount on the entry fee.

I know I've had a good run here, but the 10K will bring out the real pros, the ones who don't sweat the buyin. I could easily end up sandwiched between John Juanda and Erik Seidel, and while that would probably be a damn fine lesson it would also be a very fast way to lose ten grand. I may not be completely dead money in the main event - anyone can get lucky - but I think I'm zombie money at best.